GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When Florida quarterback Emory Jones left for midyear enrollment in January, his mother admittedly had her concerns.
Trina Jones did not doubt her son’s decision to attend Florida over Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State. She was comfortable with his college choice but worried whether he could handle the academic and athletic demands as an early high school graduate.
“I was concerned about it, just Emory being 17 and going there ahead of schedule,” Jones told SEC Country. “I struggled with it at one point, but he has definitely handled himself well from what I can tell. He has gelled with a lot of players and has a relationship with the coaches. Emory seems to be really enjoying his time there.
“He has shown amazing growth so far, even this early in the process. I can just see a difference with the way he manages all of his responsibilities and a full [course load] without a lot of assistance from me. I’ve been able to just let him be a student, so I’m very impressed by everything that’s going on in the program.”
Jones watched her son compete in the opening practice of spring ball and returned to Gainesville for the Orange & Blue Game earlier this month. Having spent time around the coaches and players, she understands how first-year Gators coach Dan Mullen has created momentum within the program.
“I came to the first official practice and just the energy jumped out at me,” she said. “I read people talk about it all the time, but I could see it when I watched them practice. They are working these players extremely hard, but everyone is having fun out there.
“When Coach Mullen addressed the parents at the spring game, it was real talk. He is holding the players to a very high standard and they are being held accountable. He has these kids motivated and there’s excitement from the fan base, too.”
Redshirt sophomore quarterbacks Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask are competing for the starting job, but many Florida fans hope Jones can receive playing time this fall after his performance in the spring game. Jones completed 3 of his 7 pass attempts for 93 yards, 1 interception and 2 touchdowns, including a 58-yard strike to tight end R.J. Raymond.
Mullen’s history suggests that the top-100 recruit will contribute in some capacity as a freshman. His mother has complete confidence in how he’s being developed.
“I trust that Coach Mullen is going to do what’s in Emory’s best interest,” she said. “I don’t think Coach Mullen was going to put Emory in a position where it became too overwhelming for him [in the spring game].
“He did just enough to give him an opportunity and expose him to a big crowd. So going into it slow is not a bad thing. If he’s not the starting quarterback when fall comes, he’s going to work hard and compete regardless.”